Five candidates now running in state Senate special election

Five candidates have now filed to run in a special election for the Minnesota Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tony Lourey.

Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, is resigning to lead the Department of Human Services in the Gov. Tim Walz administration.

The general election for the eastern Minnesota seat will take place Feb. 5. A primary -- and that appears likely, with two Democrats and two Republicans declaring their candidacies so far -- will take place Jan. 22.

Candidates in the race so far include:


  • Michelle Lee, a former Duluth news anchor who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the 8th District last year

  • Stu Lourey, the son of Tony Lourey and a legislative aide to Sen. Tina Smith


  • 8th Congressional District Deputy Republican Party Chair Justin Krych

  • Republican state Rep. Jason Rarick, who represents the southern part of the Senate district.

Also joining the race is John "Sparky" Birrenbach of the Legal Marijuana Now Party.

Birrenbach, of Pine City, posted on his campaign Facebook page that he is a small business owner and avid outdoorsman. He said he supports universal health care, wants to expand high-speed internet in rural parts of the state, and supports full legalization of cannabis products for all Minnesotans 21 and older.

"The political parties currently in charge have shown that they cannot be civil or collaborate with one another," he wrote. "I have chosen to run as an different major party candidate because I feel it is extremely important to work across party lines to bring compromise, civility, and communication back to the Minnesota State Senate.

The filing deadline for the race is Tuesday.

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